Saturday, October 15, 2011

Bloggity blog blog

I've been writing on this blog since April, 2008. I've met a lot of great people - both virtually and in person - and I'm having fun. But I realize that traffic on my blog is pretty light, and - truth be told - lately I've been feeling less than inspired.

I recently enjoyed a weekend activity at Mrs. G's blog Derfwad Manor where she gives her followers the chance to brag a little, and link to posts they're particularly proud of.

The result, for me was a lost morning, spent reading everything that was linked! And sometimes delving deeper into the blogs I visited. Not that I regret it one bit!

Windvane, downtown Los Angeles on Main Street at 5th.
One of the linked posts was Jen on the Edge's post on blogging - it's a "must read" for any aspiring blogger, I think. Go to her site and read the whole thing. 

Here, though, I'd like to talk about her recommendations. She gives 8 (eight) valuable tips to bring more traffic to your blog:
  1. Tell people about your blog
  2. Comment, comment, comment on blogs that you read
  3. Reinforce your blog with social media
  4. Guest post on other blogs, and invite other bloggers to guest post at your blog
  5. Participate in group blogging events
  6. Have contests and giveaways
  7. Go to conferences - in person and virtually
  8. Link to other blog posts you admire
When I first read this, I thought, wow, I'm doing almost all of these, and I still don't have a lot of readers. But then I realized that maybe I wasn't really following her advice.

Example - Item One - "Tell people about your blog." I admit, I have a hard time with this. I don't mind telling virtual friends to visit - I can be a shameless blogwhore indeed - but I am a little conflicted about spreading the word to actual in-the-flesh friends and family. Sure, by now most of my neighbors and my family know about my blog, but I am still reluctant to spread the word among professional acquaintances. [The Man I Love] often announces to people when we meet that I blog, and while it is endearing that he is so proud of me, I sometimes get a reflex feeling of "don't say that!" I can't quite figure this one out. What about you?

South African wirework sculpture
Item Two - Commenting. I certainly try my best. Only sometimes I forget to visit folks.  I have not quite figured out how to "follow" someone or have stuff fed through a reader. Is there someone out there who can explain how it works to me? And - if you'll permit me - I notice from my stats that the number of visitors is not always reflected by the number of commenters. I am delighted to hear from anyone! If you follow this blog but don't comment - can I do anything to encourage you? You don't have to, of course, but I'm sure I'd enjoy what you could add to the conversation.

Item Three - Social networking. I don't tweet, but I do have a Facebook page. I sometimes cross-post a Doves Today post on my Facebook page, but I don't link from Doves Today to my Facebook account. Why is that?  Should I? Do you? What are the drawbacks - especially about using your real name?

Item Four - Well, this one caught my attention. It made me realize how much I miss the opportunity I had at The (now gone) Women's Colony to write about gardening and other things. I'd love to guest post on someone's blog (shamelessly angling for invitations) - and I'm totally game for someone to guest post here. How does it work, etiquette-wise?  If anyone would like to guest-post here, please email me. Perhaps if you are someone who's thinking about blogging, you could try it out. I'm hanging out a shingle - "Room to Let". If you'd like a place on the internet where you can share your thoughts, give me a holler.

Pink Saturday
Item Five - participate in group events. I am grateful to generous bloggers who start themes and activities that both generate traffic AND inspire our creativity. Especially, I am grateful to Beverly at How Sweet the Sound for inventing Pink Saturday. Also Deb at San Diego Momma, for her PrompTuesday writing prompts - they get the creative juices flowing. Mrs. G at Derfwad Manor is constantly providing fun and thoughtful activities for bloggers to participate.

Item Six - I'm not so thrilled with the contests and giveaways. Not sure why. They're OK but I don't want to do it myself.

Item Seven - Conferences. I'm not a "joiner" (okay, so that may be my root problem!) although I do enjoy going to professional conferences. Maybe I just need to find the right group and the timing has to be right. What kind of blogging support groups do you find useful and engaging? I can't leave this topic without mentioning Bossy, whose Road Trip Los Angeles Meet-Up drew me out to meet wonderful, wonderfully supportive bloggers, and those bloggers in turn inspired me to start this blog.  You wouldn't be reading this if it weren't for Bossy but also Motherscribe, Jason, SueB0b and more.  Bossy's Seattle meet-up introduced me to Mrs. G - who is truly an inspiration.

Item Eight - Link to other blog posts. With much gratitude, I do. The only thing complicating it is how very many, many blog posts deserve linkage. How does one sort them all out?

Wall mural, in the children's nursery at the Los Angeles Theatre
Of course, it's not all about traffic and comments. It's mostly, as Jen says, a matter of posting stuff that you think people might be interested in, and seeing what happens.

What is clear to me is that it's time for me to reassess and stop being so complacent.

Santa Monica beach
 Where are you at in your bloggy career? What are your readership issues? Is more better? Or doesn't it matter. What works for you? If you're a new blogger, is there anything I can help you with? If you're a follower, are there things you want to see more of? Or less of? Let's discuss.


Jen on the Edge said...

Thank you for the link and kind words.

To address a couple of your points:

My tips were eight things that I have personally found to be helpful for my personal blog. Ergo, these are things I'm willing to do. However, if you are not comfortable with something -- as with contests and giveaways -- then don't do it. There's no law saying that all bloggers must give stuff away.

My personal feeling is that it is possible to go overboard with the giveaways, so I offer them sparingly on my blog.

As for social networking, since you're on Facebook, I see no reason why you also need to be on Twitter. As for cross-posting from your blog page to your personal profile, that's entirely up to you and should be determined by your comfort level. Honestly, most of the time I forget to cross-post on Facebook.

Regarding conferences, I'm not much for big crowds and my personal experiences with BlogHer have not been overwhelmingly positive. However, some people have gotten a lot out of them. Tweet-ups, on the other hand, have been a great way for me to meet more local bloggers. Again, this is one of those things that you have to weight against what you're doing, what you think you should be doing, and what you really want to do.

Okay, I've been a bit long-winded, so I'll stop now. :-)

Anonymous said...

Aunt Snow, you've given a lot of thought to this!
I, too, followed the link to read the post on blogging written by Jen on the Edge. So I'll try to answer your questions here:
1) I have become more free with telling people that I blog, but in the past, I hadn't wanted to spread it to extended family (okay, mostly my mother -- but that danger is over). When we moved from Virginia, it was quite easy to tell friends to follow my blog if they wanted to keep current with me.
2) I have less time than before to visit people via their blogs. I was a 99% commenter and that has dropped -- sometimes I visit without commenting now. (Sorry!)
I don't like using a reader because each blog has an individual "feel" given by its blog writer. I do, however, try to use a browser called "flock" which throws up a sidebar highlighting who has posted & how many are unread by me (I subscribe to RSS feeds to a number of blogs, including yours).
3) I have my website linked on my facebook info page, but I have only once linked directly on my profile. I have a number of friends and acquaintances that I don't wish to know me that well, I guess... which raises the question, why are they my fb friends at all? (Time for introspection, I think!)
I did recently begin using my real first name on my blog, but I've kept the last name hidden from casual visitors.
4) If you want to write about gardening in my neck of the woods, you can guest blog to your heart's content! Just shoot me an e-mail. :)
The only times I guest blogged was once for one of the last Slow Cook Thursdays at the Manor, and once on a now-defunct blog where I could get some feedback from people who didn't know me about a family issue (I didn't want to do it on my blog due to loyal readers agreeing with me and the off-chance that extended family was reading).
5) Hooray for Pink Saturday! A long time ago there was a photo meme called "Weekly Words Challenge." The WWC helped me grow my blog and gain readers. Let me know if you want to start it back up -- I'll be first to follow!
6) I've done one or two contests but it was small, pretty much just for my own readers as a "thank you" for being there.
7) Conferences. I have no interest in monetizing my blog, so why would I go to a conference? However, I have really enjoyed meeting with other bloggers (once in a group over dinner, other times individually) and would love to meet you if I ever get to LA (can I have the funky, eclectic tour?) or you make it to my neck of the woods. Mrs. G. is truly wonderful!
8) I do link for specific reasons, but I think the best thing I can do here is make a list on my sidebar of blogs I regularly read and enjoy. It takes a little time to make such a list and throw it up on the blog, but it is a way to share my favorite places with other readers.

Hope this helps!

Mrs. G. said...

I think Jen's article was excellent--she covers it all in her interesting, funny, articulate style.

I think you have to decide what your blogging goal is--is it to gain more readers just for the fun of it, is it to gain more readers for financial gain? My initial blogging goal was just to write and get a few readers. Then I started getting into community building. As DM grew, my goal changed to garnering large numbers of readers to generate ad revenue. Months later, I realized two things: 1) I wasn't ever going to generate enough readers to make any meaningful (let's be real...any)profit and 2)Blogging started feeling like a unpleasant job. My initial joy had fizzled.

I guess my point is (like Jen says) do what feels right. I suck at self promotion beyond firing up my own readers. I like FB ok but I detest Twitter because I don't get it. I don't see its value but there surely must be one or it wouldn't be so popular. I'm not drawn to travel to or spend the money on conferences--it ties in to the sucking at self promotion (and dislike of flying), but nearly everyone I know who has gone to a blogging conference comes away thrilled. You have to decide what appeals to you because once you do anything that starts feeling like a job (unless you succeed at making blogging your job) the fun wanes.
Interestingly, when I dropped the ads and page hit goals, my initial joy returned. I love the hit of excitment from immediate comments on my writing but what I most love are the relationships I've built over the years, the same crew that was around in the many others have fallen away and it feel like I've come to a satisfying full circle moment. I'm back to what I love most: community building. Like you, I've had the good fortune to meet many readers/writers in person and that makes a huge difference.

Decide what you want for your blog and then move from there. I've always thought you would be an amazing restaurant reviewer and/or travel writer!

Be careful with givaways. I've never sponsored one by a company but rather funded them myself in order to gain readers back in the WC days--I never broke even.

Mrs. G. said...

Also, I didn't tell anyone but my family about my blog for the first TWO YEARS. Even now, I rarely talk about my blog to anyone but bloggers. It feels too pretentious and braggish, but as I've mentioned before I suck at self promotion! I really try to live by the notion that if I write well and regularly people will show up, the people that are meant to anyway. xxoox

smalltownme said...

I'm going to keep this short and sweet. Sort of. I love your blog. You give amazing glimpses into a city that is not so far away in distance, but you find places I never could. I treasure the memory of meeting you on Bossy's no book tour. I'll always picture you sipping slivovitz on the circus train with the Hungarians. I could say more about the bloggy stuff but it's late and I'm enjoying an excellent
Pinot noir so I'll just say good night for now. Stay strong and carry on.

Corinna said...

Hi Aunt Snow--I'm not a blogger, but rather a reader who is de-lurking to let you know that I enjoy your blog a great deal. I live in L.A. as well (Encino--hope you don't mind having a valley-ite as a reader), and I think you do a great job of presenting a view of L.A. that isn't often seen. I've never looked at blogs as an interactive thing--I'm a graduate student and spend a lot of time on the computer, but have viewed blogs as reading material for my down time rather than a forum for participation. After reading this post, however, I wanted to let you know who one of your non-commentors is, and thank you for your informative and entertaining blog. I hope you continue with it, irregardless of traffic statistics.

Corinna said...

I'm a graduate student who can't spell: non-commenter. :)

Mingus said...

I reserve the right, always and forever, to brag on you and your blog.

There are so many Doves Today posts that are unique and precious--the adventures of grandfathers, the passages of paris, the magnificent theaters and dancing girls and glimpses into LA's past and present textures and feels and scenes.

You have a gift for combining descriptive-yet-poetic language and images, and you don't have to do it the way others do it. Those who know will dig what you do.

Lord Buckley: "Going, going down my railroad, and it's a beautiful railroad. I haven't stolen it from anyone. Nobody knows I've got it, but me. I'm, uh, I'm feeling beautiful again, I've got my own railroad, and I'm the president of the line. And I'm making the first run with the diesel. And I checked every repameter and every hoopaleter hobknobanada and all that jazz and everything is cool and I just get myself set back. The President of the Line, makin' the initial run and all the tracks cleared, Ha.. Beautiful! That diesel I wanted to goof. I was still in town so I'm doin' fifty-five, easy fifty-five, as a ridin' those tracks, Ha, just beautiful, I got my own railroad. It's marvelous."

Gilly said...

I love reading your blogs! Your part of the US seems such a foreign country to me, and you make me want to visit it!

But it seems a very beautiful part of the world - your own mountain-top house, and then your beach! I have just caught up with reading blogs, and your sunsets were so delicate!

And I'm looking forward to more photos of the foodie parts - whether selling or eating!

Deborah said...

Love reading your blog too, especially the history bits and walking tours in the area. I'm pretty new to all this and probably not a typical blogger. I started by participating in a group on writing memoirs, so that has been the focus of most of my stories. (My everyday life is far too boring to write about on a regular basis!)

I use Networked Blogs on Facebook to link to my stories and that's where I seem to get most of my hits, plus occasionally someone will drift by from Mrs. G's page. I rarely get comments. I also send out an email to my closest friends and family to announce a new story that might interest them (oftentimes they might find themselves in there somewhere!).

And as for commenting on others' pages, it comes and goes in spurts. Sometimes, I just love reading the blogs but can't think of anything interesting to add. Recently I haven't felt much like doing anything, for health reasons, so I'm just now trying to get back into my routine.

Also, I wanted to thank you for your PrompTuesdays bit last week, I followed it back to where you found the prompt and playing along really helped me break the logjam in my head! I haven't been able to write in a long time...

ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

but I am a little conflicted about spreading the word to actual in-the-flesh friends and family.

Me, too. In fact I've never told any family about mine! But the main thing I do is comment on everyone in my bloggy circle's blogs. I can tell when they have new posts up because I sort my floating blog roll by 'most recently updated'.

Lala said...

Everyone who has already posted has said (much more eloquently than I could) everything I wanted to say... except for: this is one of those posts that will inevitably stick in my mind as a great example of HOW TO DO IT. And it absolutely proves the point that Jen and Mrs. G touched on - do it for the right reason. That reason seems to be for many of us, community building.

I used to comment prolifically when I blogged under a different name, and I had tons of followers. But it absolutely took up a lot of time. When I changed jobs, I started a new blog, backed way off of the commenting, and only one person followed me - thank you smalltownme!

I read and enjoy your blog often, but like many, don't always comment. I realize from reading this that, while I may not always have anything earth-shaking to add to your post, you as a writer appreciate the feedback... I know I do.

My recent post is kind of along the same lines, it would be great to feel like my blog is part of a conversation rather than a soapbox speech. (something I need to keep in mind when I'm writing... I guess when you come from a long line of Southern Baptist Preachers, that recessive pulpit-pounding gene sometimes becomes dominant)

I'd love to guest blog, and would love to host guest bloggers! So, put my name on your list, and I'll put your's on mine!

Thanks so much for writing this, it has helped me more than you know.

Glennis said...

Thank you all for your comments - just wanted to let Corinna and Lala know your comments were stuck in the spam filter and I liberated them. Corinna, you have a previous version of your published comment still in the spam-filter, but it is a duplicate - let me know if you'd like me publish if or if you are OK with the one I did.

Gary's third pottery blog said...

I am totally COMPELLED to blog. It is a creative project for 5 plus years and 5000 plus posts. It is just something I do every day after breakfast, whether anybody looks or not. Be that as it may, I am grateful to readers and try to visit commenters as often as possible, but it is a long list :) There is also a number of people who have come to visit me as a result of the blog, and as a super shy person, that has been very hard to face ---with a couple of exceptions. IF YOU came to Ithaca, I would want to meet you :)


I've noticed that many blog posts have slowed. That's okay. Post whenever you're inspired. This isn't for money you know. I do enjoy your posts.

Linda said...

Long time reader not much of a commenter.
I think I started reading when Mrs G, left and you took over FAD Friday or maybe it was Mancake for a while.
Any who I stayed with you, I love seeing Sunny Calif my home town was Fullerton. I am now in the PNW Seattle.
Wineinmyglass, Linda

Big Bad Bald Bastard said...

She gives 8 (eight) valuable tips to bring more traffic to your blog:

I have to confess that five percent of my traffic comes from horndogs searching for "voluptuous women" and finding my Frank Frazetta memorial.

Yay, internet!

ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

BBBB, you're supposed to read some cosmic event into all that site traffic (and not a bunch of pervs with internet access and too many other things they don't want to do).

Janet said...

I read your blog on my feed reader, usually at work, that's why lately sometimes I don't comment. Big brother and all that. My computer at home is on the fritz, so I don't spend much time online at home. I miss it! Also, I've kind of lost my blogging desire, but NOT the desire to keep up with other's blogs. Yours is one of my favorites!

Corinna said...

Thank you for liberating my comment! I'm sorry I filled your filter with so many-just really wanted you to know I enjoy your writing.

lift parts said...

I really like studying your blogs! Your aspect of the US seems such overseas to me, and you create me want to check out it!But it seems a very wonderful globe - your own mountain-top home, and then your beach! I have just captured up with studying weblogs, and your florida sunsets were so delicate!